Thursday, June 30, 2011

Jinxed myself.... More meds!

Well, I posted too soon about getting back down to relatively "normal" meds! Anita called today and my hormone levels have dropped quite a bit, despite increasing the doses on Tuesday night. Tonight, we increase the estrogen in our injection, continue our progesterone tabs, AND start 4 capsules of Progesterone per day! We found out back in March that I had a Luteal Phase Deficiency, which is a insufficiency of progesterone during the luteal phase of our cycle. (Progesterone builds a lining that makes the embryo "stick.") So, Iguess this isn't much of a surprise... much for the 1 day "pill" break!

Bedrest has Ended!!!

As most of you know, I've been on super strict bedrest since Sunday. My head couldn't be above 45 degrees and I could get out of bed ONLY to use the restroom (NOT brush teeth, wash face, etc.) and wash my hands. I had planned to be on the computer working quite a bit, but just couldn't do it! I couldn't type at that angle (or see the screen well for that matter) and got frustrated everytime I tried to do the smallest computer-related tasks! Frankly, I felt kind of "washed out" as well and just didn't have much energy.

Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday went relatively well. Adam took GREAT care of me, Mom came to visit and brought Sonic (my favorite), and Ms. Lokey cooked 3 meals... I watched some TV, slept, and read. Yesterday, however, things changed. My back was super sore and I just couldn't get comfortable. My hormone dosage also doubled on Tuesday night, which didn't help matters. (I melted down and cried because Adam wouldn't buy me a chilli dog for lunch...and I haven't eaten a stupid chilli dog in over a year!) By this morning, I was definitely done!

I woke up a bit before 5 (after a very restless night of being unable to get comfortable) and hopped in the shower. I thought it was going to be wonderful...but it wasn't. I have become so sensitive to smells that the smell of my hair conditioner literally made me nauseated...and I just couldn't seem to shake it. My face cream smelled bad, my garage stank, etc... So, I got clean and headed out for the drive to Nashville. Ms. Lokey offered to ride up with me for company and I the 2.5 hours in the car gets old by yourself. We arrived on time and I had my blood drawn. Today is just a check on estradiol and progesterone pregnancy test yet as it's too early. Anita told me that I was off bedrest, but that I should kind of relax today. Frankly, I feel kind of washed out, so I didn't argue.

We stopped at Cracker Barrell on the way home as well as the office to visit with Mom and Dad. Now, I'm home and going to rest a bit.

One thing I didn't count on at the start of this process is the amount of medication! I'm now just back to my BP meds, vitamins, (off antibiotics and steroids) and nightly injections of progesterone and estrogen. Today marks one full month of at least one shot every day ( one day off). In some ways, sore hips and bruises are becoming part of normal life!

Overall, I am certainly praying this process is successful and worth it! And while I'm kind of sore and tired today, I am VERY thankful to be off of bedrest!!!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Happy Ending, to this Phase at Least!!!

Hopeful future Sawinskis... Scrappy A and Scrappy B (Named by Leslee)

Well, we sat on pins and needles yesterday dreading the possibility of a phone call that would end this cycle...but, thankfully it never came! I couldn't sleep all night because I just had this fear that we would get up there today, only to be told that there was nothing good enough to transfer. We headed to Nashville around 6:45 am and arrived at 8:05 am. During our trip, the rain had stopped and there was a hint of sunshine behind the clouds. We went into the office and waited until we were called back.

Around 8:30 am, we were called to the back. I, once again, had the opportunity to change into a buttless gown and booties. I placed my clothes in "my" locker and went to sit in the all-to-familiar recliner. There, we signed consents for the transfer. I also was given another intramuscular injection of Demerol/Phenergan and had more blood drawn. The nurse had to look for areas that had "less" bruising, as I've become one big bruise as of late!

After the forms were signed, Dr. Vasquez came in to talk to us. He was not nearly as worried about our egg quality as Anita had implied. He stated that it was "fine" and that he "saw no issues with it." We discussed what options we had and the pros/cons of each. We had a total of 3 embryos. Two were Grade B (He said they almost never gave A's.) and there was one Grade C, which was fragmented. He offerred placing one, two, or all three. After more discussion, Adam and I chose to go with the two Grade B embryos (one with 8 cells and one with 10). The Grade C will likely arrest tonight, so can't be frozen. Overall, we KNEW that triplets would not be safe for us in light of my blood pressure issues and the fact that we both work! In the end, we went with our original plan, which was to place 2!

After all forms were signed and my drugs (which also included Valium) were in, I was escorted to the OR. Adam was allowed to "dress" as well and go with me this time, which was comforting. During the wait, we also talked to the embryologist who assurred us that our eggs were ok and that if this failed, we were NOT hopeless in the future. We waited for a bit more and then I got to sit with my knees in stirrups for several minutes...almost an hour! I drifted in and out...half awake. Dr. Vasquez, the embryologist (via a side door), a tech, and his nurse all came in. The speculum was placed and we got started. After lots of "embryo-safe" prepping was done, he began to position things. Adam describes his placement as a "roller coaster." Apparently, my anatomy is VERY hard with two sharp twists in order to make it into the uterine cavity. Even with two cervical sutures, he had a tough time. I was defnitely thankful for the drugs, as I'm pretty sure that the process would have been REALLY painful otherwise. Even with drugs, it was uncomfortable (and frankly painful) at times. Once ready though, the embryos were verified as ours and passed through the embryology "door." Shooting them in was definitely something that I felt! It was actually painful, but such a relieving and happy moment as well! He then removed the cervical sutures, which caused a fair amount of bleeding. I had to sit with some packing for about 20 minutes to ensure that everything stopped. Dr. Vasquez then came back in, removed things, and was pleased. I laid on the bed for another 15 or so minutes, then was transferred to recovery via stretcher. After another 15 or so minutes, I was allowed to dress (while laying with my head just barely elevated) and to use the restroom. I was then rolled out to the car and rested in the back seat on the way home.

I've laid around all afternoon and cannot get out of bed except to use the restroom. Actually, I can't even raise my head above 45 degrees! We called Dr. Vasquez (as instructed) this afternoon, who reported that our labs are good. Now, we continue our plethora of meds and nightly shots...while being glued to the bed!

Overall, I can't start to express how thankful I am that things went so well today! Friday's news was devastating, as I was afraid that we would be told that there was no hope for us having a child who was biologically ours. Satuday was torture and today was just wonderful! The pain was nothing compared to the happiness we have knowing that we DO have a chance and that this may just work! Whether the ending is happy or not, today was a perfect as it could be and for that, I am super grateful. Our (and many of your) prayers were answered today! Perhaps, someone else had a little influence as least I'd like to think so!

Thank you to all who called, emailed, and messaged us this weekend. I read every one of them and appreciate all of your prayers and support. And Jordan, thanks for the "eye candy" package!

Friday, June 24, 2011


Out of 19 eggs retrieved yesterday, 17 were mature. All 17 were treated with ICSI (sperm injected into egg) and of those, only 9 fertilized. Overall, our egg quality was poor...which was not expected. (Our bloodwork indicated good quality eggs on every draw. However under the microscope, our eggs were dark in color and irregular...) Lots of normal, healthy babies have been born from poor quality eggs, but it's not a good sign.

For now, we wait until tomorrow to hear if the embryos cleaved appropriately. If they did well, we will not be called and will be going to Nashville on Sunday at 8:15 am for an embryo transfer. We have been encouraged to consider placing more than 2 embryos in light of the egg quality, but will be able to make better decisions depending on how the embryos look on Sunday.

If we are called tomorrow, all embryos essentially died and the cycle is a failure. Frankly, with poor egg quality...I'm not sure additional cycles would be in our best interest as they are likely to fail as well.

Our fingers are crossed that the phone doesn't ring tomorrow, but we are prepared either way. It's going to be a long weekend for sure...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

19 Eggs!!!

Well, I'm up and doing great. The egg retrieval went really well thig morning and overall, 19 eggs were retrieved! We won't know how many fertilized (which means they were injected with a sperm and have divided) until tomorrow morning, but I'm hopeful that most will!

For those who want details (otherwise, that's the end of the post):

We got to CRH at 7:15 am (early as usual to avoid traffic) and went into the office around 7:40 am. There was one man who came into the waiting room from the back, so we assume he was waiting on his partner's egg retrieval. We waited until 8:10 am and were beginning to get a little anxious. (The trigger shot we took on Tuesday was at 8:45 pm, and egg retrieval should be done 36 hours later...if too late, you can ovulate and lose eggs.) They took me back at 8:15 am to the OR area. I had to provide a urine specimen for a pregnancy test (still find this a bit ironic) and get changed into the infamous open-backed gown, blue cap, and booties. I then went to a recliner where I signed some consent forms and received my ID bracelet. I was asked to consent to a cervial stitch. I wasn't even sure as to what it was or was for, but not wanting to delay...signed the form anyway! Very shortly after, I walked into the OR and got onto the bed. It looked more like a modified exam table than an OR bed, which makes sense for what they are doing. 2 CRNAs (one was a student) and the anesthesiologist came in a spoke to me. They put in an IV (and drew some blood....shocking, I know) and within minutes, I was out! I vaguely remember moving onto the strecther and hearing something like "18 eggs." I woke up about 10 minutes later in recovery doing well. I got dressed and was wheeled out to the car. Adam asked Anita about the eggs and was told that there were 19. my stupor, I was close!

Overall, it was a positive and easy experience! Now, we wait to see how many fertilized!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Moving to the next stage...

Today was a good trip to Nashville! Adam and I got to CRH around 7:30am and headed on in. I made the obligatory first stop at the lab and had my 4th blood draw in my left arm in a row (the right was still too bruised to stick). We then headed to the exam room for our ultrasound. Dr. Vasquez and Anita came in (Yes, I'm spoiled by my doc actually doing the ultrasounds...not usually the case.) and got started. I had over 18 follicles that were "mature." All were big and healthy today!

After some counting, measurements, and a brief pause, Dr. Vasquez basically said that there was no way we could wait until Friday for our egg retrieval. I was just too far along and waiting could cost us a lot of good eggs. I knew he was "building" his case because I had firmly told him on Saturday that I could NOT have the retrieval on Thursday because I had patients scheduled! After the way I've felt today....I would have been fine with tomorrow! So, I told him that I was "cool" with moving the retrieval up and we were good to go.

Anita called this afternoon and told us that my E2 level was 2800. "Normal" for retrievals is 500-1500... Over 3000-4000 can lead to some severe hypsertimulation syndromes. So, I'm at the upper end of success without falling into the high risk range!

Our "trigger" shot (which is a wholloping dose of pregnancy hormone which will make a pregnancy test positive btw) is tonight at exactly 8:45 pm. Tomorrow, I get a break from all injections!!!!!!!! (After 1-2 a day plus tons of blood draws, this is a TREAT!) On Thursday, we have to be in Nashville at 8 am ready and in the OR by 8:45 am. I'm a little scared and nervous, but also excited that we are entering another phase of this process!

On a happy note, our embryo transfer will be on Sunday, the day of our Dampier family reunion. I guess someone upstairs might have had a little hand in that...

Monday, June 20, 2011

More trips...

Well, I kind of wish I could just start sleeping overnight in Nashville since I seem to be living there practically every morning! I went to Nashville last Wednesday (E2 469), Friday (E2 900+) , Saturday (E2 1000+), Sunday (E2 1600+) and today( E2 2011). And yes, I've had blood drawn EVERY visit (see lab values for those interested)...

Today the ultrasound tech was running late. I guess Anita felt bad and knew I had to get back to the office (which was wound care clinic today), so she grabbed Dr. Vasquez to do my ultrasound. It's kind of nice having the doc to do it as you get answers quickly! His "critique" was, "Things look great! Anita will call you this afternoon once the labs come in." (He's a man of few words...) I counted somewhere around 20 follicles again and all seemed to be around 12-20mm.

This afternoon, Anita called and guess what??? I get to go to Nashville AGAIN in the morning! (Plus, I get to have 5 amps of Repronex tonight...our highest dose ever!) Dr. Vasquez wants to repeat the ultrasound himself and make the final decision. Anita (who watched today's ultrasound) feels pretty sure that he's going to move the egg retrieval up a day. She even told me that I might want to "free up my Thursday." So, things are going very well...a little too well. Looks like we could go on Thursday which would make our embryo transfer on the day of the Dampier Family Reunion.

On a personal and sentimental note, to transfer what could very well be our future child/children on the day of our family reunion, would be really special to me. If it happens that way, I'd like to think my Grandaddy had a little something to do with it. He always made the reunion a high priority in his life. While I won't be there this year, I'm praying that Sunday becomes a day that in some little way, perpetuates our Dampier family. Wouldn't that be a special story to tell our children??? It's been over 3 months, but I miss him tremendously...every day (especially yesterday). Hopefully he's getting a nice view from above and is pleased with all of the things we, as his family, are doing!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Another trip...

Well, Mom and I went up to PathGroup Labs today (the actual lab and pathology place for central TN) for another blood draw. After two nights on only 3 amps of our medicine (instead of the 4 we were taking), my E2/Estradiol level was 1006 or 1060. So, we only went up by 100 or opposed to doubling!

Tonight, we go back to our 4 amps and guess what??? I get to go to Nashville AGAIN tomorrow AND Monday! Adam will ride with me tomorrow. Unfortunately, the only way to regulate the drugs is to look at ultrasound results and lab values. Looks like lots of blood draws and trips to Nashville this week.

Our goal is several follicles over 2cm (usually it's less for women, but because I am good...they are shooting for "better" eggs) and an E2/Estradiol level above 3000. At the pace I was going before we backed off, I'd have been ready by Tuesday. So, slowing down now...we are still looking at Friday. I'm definitely getting more excited... Even if things don't work the first time, I'm happy that we at least are able to give this such a good shot and that things are going very nicely so far. I talked to our doc today and he's happy with everything, so we are too!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Looks like I'm on overachiever....again.

Growing follicles...Most of mine are over 1 cm now!

Today was another followup visit to Nashville. Our drive up was uneventful and we arrived about 20 minutes early. We were taken back a pinch early, but to different areas. Adam had to cryopreserve his sperm today ($300 extra dollars), so he went into the "man room," while I headed to the lab. I had my Estradiol level drawn then headed to the ultrasound room. My ultrasound showed significant growth in my 20 or so follicles today, which is good! I kind of knew that though because I can FEEL my ovaries (inside...not from my belly)! As best I can measure, they've grown from a normal size approximating a kumquat/olive to a kiwi/tangerine in 48 hours. Looks like I'll have grapefruits by next Friday!

This afternoon, we received our telephone call with future instructions. Turns out, my estrogen went from 469 to 906 in 48 hours. While we want it to rise, doubling is a bit excessive! They dropped my Repronex again to 225 units tonight and guess what??? I get to drive to Nashville AGAIN tomorrow...sigh. Basically, I'm driving up to a specialty lab to have another level drawn. Then sometime after 5, I have to call Dr. Vasquez for instructions on how to adjust my medications.

I'm WAYYYYY overachieving at this point, which is good (that my ovaries work) and bad (that they work way tooo good). Hopefully the labs will be ok tomorrow. As expected, I go back on Monday for another ultrasound and blood draw. Thankfully, I have good veins! Can't do anything the easy's in the Dampier genes!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Great Day!

This is what my ovaries look like right now.....Today was overall, a great day! I got up at 5am to get showered and head to Nashville. The traffic was really light (now that school's out), and I arrived 40 minutes early. I sat in the lobby and read my Nook Color while I waited. I was called back relatively on time and started with my labwork. I'm constantly impressed by the women who work in the lab! They seem to never miss and cause almost no pain! (Which is a good thing, since it has to be drawn so often.) I then went back to the ultrasound room and had my first "stimulation" ultrasound. I watched it and saw several follicles, but couldn't keep up with the ultrasonographer's counts as she was so fast! After it was over, I headed back to the hospital where I did 4 cases (2 of which were fairly big) and just got home about 15 minutes ago.

While operating, Anita at CRH called to let us know that we had 20 follicles on ultrasound and my estrogen was 469. (On Friday, my estrogen was under 60 and was likely approaching 0 on Sunday.) For only 3 days of stim drugs, my response is practically perfect! So, I'll take my same dose tonight (4 amps Repronex) and tomorrow I'll decrease the dose to 3 amps. Will continue my same Lupron dose for now as well. So, still 2 shots per day until Friday! I go back Friday for more labs and another ultrasound. If things continue to go this well, our egg retriveal will be next Friday for sure (the 24th)!

Also, our vet called today. Fonzie's repeat hearworm test was negative!!! They will recheck him in one month and if negative again, he's good to go! I am soooooo very grateful for this news and will just hope for the best next month!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

We did it!!!

Well, tonight I survived the first "stim" shot! I guess the hormones hit their all time low today (which is technically a desirable thing) as I could hardly get off the couch. Other than showering, going to the hospital to round for a few hours, and going to dinner, I've been parked on the couch all day! (NOT like me at all....)

Because I felt so washed out, I was eager to start the hormones today! We have to take the shot around the same time every night (within 1 hour), so we picked 7:30pm. Ms. Lokey came over to help and give Adam some moral support...and to be supportive to me as well. Adam has never given any type of injection before and has a huge issue with needles. So...this was a BIG deal to him!

Overall, I'd give him a B+....or maybe an A-. He did everything right, but was a pinch slow. Ms. Lokey helped him and talked him through the process step by step. I'm glad it's done (for tonight) and that each day will get easier and least from an injection standpoint.

I'm thrilled that the process has officially begun and just pray that we see some growing follicles on Wednesday! Thanks to everyone who has sent messages and left comments these past few weeks. I've read and deeply appreciated every one of them!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

June 10 Visit to CRH

Well, yesterday we went to the Center for Reproductive Health in Nashville (CRH) for our "suppression check" and "teaching" session. Since May 29, I have been taking Lupron injections daily. The goal of Lupron is to suppress the ovaries to prevent ovulation and hormone production. In layman's terms, it mimics menopause.'s been an interesting couple of weeks! Overall, I've done fine. I'm still not too fond of giving myself shots in the tummy, but I HAVE managed to do it on time every day! I have mild headaches from the drug and some facial flushing, but really nothing that dramatically impacted my day-to-day life.

We were taken back quickly by Anita (the IVF Nurse Cordinator). She organized each medication into separate bags with cute labels...practically idiot-proofing them! She them went through exactly what we were to do and allowed Adam to "practice" his injection skills. His practice round went well from the standpoint that he didn't pass out, but I'm a little nervous... He REALLY wants to give them and be a part of this process (he gets the "good" part), so I'm going to grit my teeth and bear it tomorrow night... I will have Ms. Lokey with us though, so that she can inject if Adam wimps out (or hits the floor)! We were given our schedule and then send down the hall for our ultrasound and labs.

The ultrasound looked great (thin lining and lots of follicles) and I assume the estrogen level was low. (Anita said that no afternoon phone call meant good news.) So, we are good to start the next phase. We have survived the suppression phase and are now starting the stimulation phase tomorrow.

For those who really want to know, here are details:
Today: Last dose of Lupron 10 unit suppression.
Tomorrow (Sunday) through Wednesday: Start Doxycycline twice a day (both of us). Decrease Lupron to 5 units per day. Start Repronex (hormones) via hip injection nightly. So, looks like 2 injections per day at least until Wednesday's appointment!

Will post any "new" news Wesnesday... I did learn about my week of bedrest yesterday, which was NOT what I had in mind! From Monday the 27th through Friday, July1, I can't shower or get out of bed for ANYTHING except for using the restroom! They are VERY strict about the bedrest protocols... I even have to eat in bed. Since I'm not lazy and I'm definitely not someone to stay in bed, that is going to be an interesting week for sure.... Hormonal, dirty with frizzy hair, and on out!

More to come on Wednesday... If things do work out and everything goes according to the schedule, we'll have our first pregnancy test on July 8. If they don't, we'll at least know what to expect!

Our Sad Days...RIP Lilly

Well, the Memorial Day weekend was wonderful. Unfortunately, the rest of the week was a doozy. I worked really hard and did several cases during those 4 days. On Thursday night, we noticed that Lilly just didn't look good. Her apetite had been poor for several weeks, despite feeding her all of her "favorite" foods. I knew that I might have to make a tough decision, but was going to take a "wait and see" approach over the weekend. Unfortunately, despite trying everything we could think of (including letting her bask outdoors), Lilly died on June 3, 2011. She was nearly 16 years old and I had had her in my care since March 12, 1996. We took her to the vets and had her creamated. She was with me almost half of my life, so it's definitely weird to wake up and not have to feed her and buy greens for her twice a week! Overall though, she had a great life and I'm glad to have had her in mine for so long! RIP Lilly

If that wasn't enough, we found out this Wednesday that Fonzie (our 13 year old chihuahua) has heartworms. At this point, 3 different vets are reviewing his tests to determine what the best course of treatment will be (if any). It's complicated because of his age and his history of a heart murmur before heartworms... Will just have to wait and see what the recommendations are next week. I'm pretty worried about him. Thankfully, he's his normal (slightly less active) self for now though!

Memorial Day Weekend (continued)....

Not my best look, but still a good pic!

On Sunday, Dad declined his invitation to hike again. Adam and I slept in and then headed out to Meigs Creek Falls. We thought it was an easy hike and we felt like we were "game" to do it. Unfortunately, Sunday was hotter and more humid that Saturday had been! We started our 3 mile hike which consisted of LOTS of elevation changes, sunshine, and creek crossings. Finally, we made it to the falls! We took some photos and headed down the trail. I had a craving for the Melting Pot, which I knew had recently opened in Gatlinburg. So, sweaty, hot, and wet, we had a nice dinner at Melting Pot!

On Monday, we had breakfast at Old Mill and headed home. Overall, it was a GREAT weekend outdoors in the Smokeys!

It's Back...Starting with Memorial Day Weekend

Well, the last two weeks have been a whirlwind for sure! I've had several emails and notes and figured the blog was the easiest way to tell "everyone" what was going on in our lives! This is going to be a long post......
On Memorial Day Weekend, Adam, Mom, Dad, and I went to Pigeon Forge. We arrived Friday night and got settled in our hotels after a shopping trip at Bass Pro Shop. On Saturday, we all had breakfast at Cracker Barrell. Dad, Adam, and I then went to the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail to hike to Rainbow Falls. Because we had to park quite a ways from the trailhead, we actually hiked 6.6 miles round trip with 1800 feet of elevation gain! It was a gorgeous day and we had a great time.

Dad and I on the trail at the "teaser" falls!

Adam and I at Rainbow Falls.

After we finished our hike, Mom and Dad met up with their friends and Adam and I went for dinner and Old Mill Icecream. We had a rough night (probably from being so sore), so slept in Sunday morning. (Actually, I got up at 7 to start my shots, but went back to bed....)

More to come in next post....had to break it up for photos.